Today is officially my one year blogging birthday.
To mark the occasion, I’ve been sharing a little of my First Year Blogging Story throughout the week. [You might want to catch the posts ‘Cheers to the Passion Bloggers: Why I blog and my struggle with passion vs expertise’ and ‘How NOT to Choose a Blog Name: Blog Naming Pitfalls to Avoid’.]
My story wouldn’t be complete without telling you a little about my move from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress, i.e., WordPress.org. I was about to prepare a post on the topic when I realized that I had already written one last spring just after I made the move. So, rather than waste time composing the same kind of post, I thought I’d just include that post right here. So I’ve pasted it further down below.
But one thing that I never talked much about in that original post was WHY I made the move. First, let me tell you that it wasn’t something I gave a whole lot of thought to before I dove in head first. Sink or swim seems to be the underlying theme to my blogging experience so far, lol.
The big reason I moved is that I am a control freak. Blogger is a great blogging platform, but they are allowing you to use their server for free, and so they, not you, control it. 98% of the time, and for most bloggers, this isn’t an issue. But every now and then, you’d hear stories of bloggers who lose access to their blogs. ( One blogger I knew had to re-start her successful blog from scratch.) Then there was that ‘service outage’ last May when no Blogger users at all could access their blogs for days.
My blog was still teensy tiny, and I certainly wasn’t making a living from it like others were so, for me, it wasn’t that big a deal at the time. But what I realized then was that it would have been a big deal if my blog was larger and something I depended on for income. It was then that I decided to gain full control over my blog in the event that one day in the future it was bigger and made money. (One can dream, right?!?)
I wasn’t sure where my blogging journey might lead, but in the event that I was ever interested in turning my passion for decorating into a business, it seemed that this was the right place to be. I had no immediate plans (and I still don’t), but it just gave me more creative and functional options if ever did decide to go that route. And, I figured it was better to make the move while my blog was still small (in links and subscribers) as that meant that the risks were lower.
The bottom line? To date, changing to WordPress.org hasn’t been life-altering in either a positive or negative way. The sky hasn’t opened up or fallen in. I haven’t been selected as lead acrobat by Cirque Du Soleil (yet) or been kidnapped by aliens in a hot air balloon. I haven’t hit a million subscribers yet lol (ah, shucks!) or made a million bucks. And my blog would probably still look and feel pretty much the same if I were still on Blogger.
But I’m really happy that I made the move when I did. There might come a day when I want to grow this into something else (like when my now 2-year old twins turn 18 and are in college, lol), and at least I’ll have already done the prep work. Sure, there’s been a learning curve as there is with any change. But, for me, it’s been time well-invested.
Anyway, here’s what I wrote back then when I made the move (originally posted in June 2011). Hope you find it helpful in some small way.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve learned more about the ins and outs of HTML code, FTP sites, domains, server errors and plugins than I ever thought my brain could process.
While on Blogger, I could stick my fingers in my ears and sing “la la la” whenever words like these came up. While on Blogger, the most technical thing I needed to know was how to post code in a gadget. Not so over here, my friends. You can’t play dumb.
Now, here’s the really encouraging thing: YOU CAN DO IT! In Oprah-language, “Here is what I know for sure”: If I can sucessfully move my blog from Blogger to WordPress, you can too! I am not technical. Like, not at all. No people, I am ‘that girl’ at work who the systems manager avoids. I’m the girl who consistently has problems hooking up the projector properly for her client presentation.
But here’s the thing. I can follow instructions. And I can copy and paste. And I know how to Google (when things go wonky). Can you follow instructions? Can you copy and paste? Can YOU Google? If you answered yes (and of course you did!), then you too can move your blog to WordPress.org.
If you find it all too scary, then hire somebody with mad skills to do it for you. But if you think there’s a chance you can do it yourself, then you have nothing to lose. Well, except all your posts and all your followers. Did your heart just stop? I’m just kidding! There were moments when I thought this was going to happen to me too. And I think that’s what holds most of us back from making the switch.
You’ll read a lot of stuff out there about how simple it is to move from Blogger to WordPress.org. I read it too before I dove in. I think that’s why I dove (instead of waddled). I dove in thinking it’d take me a day or two, and I could call it a wrap. But, let’s be real people, nothing is ever “simple”. It’s definitely do-able, but it will take an investment of your time and energy (and some moola) to do it.
Here’s what I didn’t anticipate:
- How much I’d need to access ‘the bowels’ (aka ‘the server’) of my blog – you know, that stuff that you never knew existed over at Blogger? The first time I saw an instruction than told me to log into my FTP, I think I almost had a heart attack. I never knew THAT was involved! “OK, I’m out” I thought. But I had gone too far to turn back! So I took a deep breath and did what ‘they’ told me. And you know what I realized? It’s not so scary. There’s a lot of jargon out there that makes it all seem scarier than it is!
- The amount of time it would take to make it all look pretty. Yes, your WordPress theme will do most of the leg-work, but there’ll be wacky things that need fixing. And, there’ll be so many more opportunities to customize your blog than at Blogger (that’s one of the advantages, after all) that you’ll find yourself digging into more plug-ins and widgets than you can shake a stick at.
- How easy it would be for everything to go off the rails by NOT following the instructions. Hear me when I say, “Follow the instructions!” Pay attention. To Every Detail. I added one extra space to something, and it caused me to lose my followers in Google Reader for two weeks. One measly space. But that’s how cranky code is. Oh, and I skipped an entire section in my manual about transferring “Permalinks” because I thought they didn’t apply to me. Duh. Trust me, people, you need Permalinks. So, even if it sounds foreign, do it anyway.
Have I scared you off yet? I hope not! Because I am REALLY happy that I made the move. I just think that if you are considering it, you should set aside enough time in your life to do it. It’s not something that you can do in an hour. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, hire somebody. In any case, set out a plan of attack. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Also, you should know the costs. They’re not exhorbitant, but it’s certainly not free like at Blogger. You need to pay:
- for your own domain name (an annual or semi-annual fee)
- for your web hosting (a monthly fee)
- for your WordPress theme (although you can find some free ones)
And, here’s what you’ll gain:
- Total control over your blog
- More ways to make it look better…and work better…for your followers
- Better SEO
- More opportunities to grow your blog
- All the knowledge you’ll ever need to ‘talk the talk’ with those techie-types
If you are thinking of making the move, I’d highly recommend paying the small download fee for How to Move from Blogger to WordPress is, by Sharon Hujik. (And, no, she didn’t pay me to say that!) It was the BEST investment evah. She also just happens to be the person who I begged to help me when things went wonky. She found that little space in my code that screwed everything up. She knows her stuff.
The other things you’ll need are a coffee maker and a bottle of champagne. The coffee is mandatory to keep you alert (so you don’t add that extra space like I did, or skip the section about permalinks); the champagne is a requirement once you’ve wrapped it all up! I’m still afraid to pop the cork though, just in case I jinx things ;-).
Until next time, happy “blogging food for thought”!